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  • Quality management - How do you get


    R. Grover

    Hoskyns Group, 95 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LX,


    It is frequently asserted that 80% of all development groups are stillat level 1 of SPMM. How are those groups to get to Base Camp, letalone start climbing the mountain?

    In practice, Quality Management can only be based on Repeatabilityand Experience. The presentation discusses the entry level needs forprocess stabilisation using your current experience, and thenprogression towards and through level 2 of SPMM. It is biassedtowards the project management aspects of quality, and the benefitsof using generic models and examples as a basis for capturingexperience and for (quality) reviews.

    It is aimed at people at an early stage of their thinking about ProcessImprovement and Quality.

    It is a cultural problem as much as anything:

    Q) How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light-bulb?A) First, it has to WANT to change.

    Transactions on Information and Communications Technologies vol 4, 1993 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3517

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    More formal Life Cycle Management tools are already available, toenforce the 'Institutionalised procedures'; I will briefly discuss theiruse in SPMM level 3 environments, particularly as a way ofintroducing the practicalities and impacts of a formal QMS with'teeth'.

    Topic categories: Process Improvement (and Project Management).

    Subsidiaries: Setting up a QMS, Quality Planning, Approaches toSystem development, Methodologies, Standards, Certification.


    Level 1 of SPMM is where everyone starts. The trouble, is mostorganisations stay there!

    When you do everything differently each time, it is not possible to talkin terms of Quality and Productivity. These can only be discussedwhen work is planned, and carried out, in a stable environment basedon doing the same things in the same way, and THEN measuring theQuality and Productivity trends.

    For twenty years, and more, several consultancies have been trying tohelp organisations actually get organised, and learn from their ownexperience as it occurs - what better teacher can there be? And justas resolutely, the organisations have spent substantial numbers ofperson - years trying to write down standards manuals based onexhortations. In my experience, it takes over a year (elapsed) tocreate a standards manual, and less than a year to forget that it exists.

    Why do people forget? Partly its human nature to do it for yourself,partly it is the problem of finding the page you want in a thick tomeof paper. But mainly I believe it is the culture we have in IT thatrewards 'New, Latest, Innovative' approaches and generally ignores thehard earned lessons. I also believe that 'Life Is Too Short To MakeAll Your Own Mistakes'.

    Transactions on Information and Communications Technologies vol 4, 1993 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3517

  • Software Quality Management 207

    Level 2 and Level 3 of SPMM convey the same message. Level 2 canbe described as 'Local' standards, and Level 3 as 'Institutionalised' -when people don't spend time arguing why this project is so differentthat the standards don't apply at all (ie. its a level 1 project). Instead,they concentrate on squeezing the most out of the standards by re-using as much as possible.

    Getting Out of Level 1

    Ken Thompson's paper (1991) sets out the primary issues to get toLevel 2. The simplest tool, that helps with most of these topics, is agood project management tool. It needs to help with the collection of'experience' so it can be re-used. This includes:

    the original plan (tasks, estimates , from local standards)the actual results (actual task list, final work effort )task deliverable names (to link with CASE tools)local management information, so that in flight re-schedulingcan be done as this project phase proceeds. This means 'effort-to-complete' and 'estimated date complete' for all current tasks,for each person each week.

    In the IT world, Project Manager Workbench (PMW)is the mostwidely used such tool, with 70,000 copies in IT (out of 100,000 total sale).

    Using the project management tools provides the basis for QualityMeasures - and perhaps the start of a comparison of the effectivenessof project management. If "consistency" is a virtue, then the regulartracking can provide some measure of it - which projects have mosttasks over-length? or total budget variances? etc.

    It is vital that end-phase (end-Stage) reviews are in place to collectupdating information for use on other projects (fig 2). These are alsothe best time to collect examples of high quality products to updateand extend the Examples Book (or Standards manual). They can bein electronic form, or on paper.

    Transactions on Information and Communications Technologies vol 4, 1993 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3517

  • 208 Software Quality Management

    Settling Down at Level 2

    The various different models, collected from real projects, need to beaggregated and rationalised. This produces 'de facto' local standards.Because they are informal and local, they are likely to be used,because everybody helped to produce them. This is described infigure 1.






  • Software Quality Management 209

    Electronic Examples. Not Paper

    BRIDGE puts your standards manuals on your screen, so for eachtask you can call up pictures of the example products, with descriptionsof the guidelines and the normal tools and techniques to be used.

    These are 'passive' pictures, they need to be read and then used, butthey can be kept fully up to date by the QA&S people over thenetwork or by a disk distribution.

    Using Models

    generic models

    iselect best fit

    update models

    review model

    overall size;phase sizes(top down)

    itune 1 phase;task list

    task sizes(bottom up)

    review project

    review phase

    review tasks,sizes





    Figure 2

    Figure 2 shows how models can be used. First select the outlinemodel for this project. This give you a Macro structure (at phaselevel), with overall percentages phase by phase.

    Transactions on Information and Communications Technologies vol 4, 1993 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3517

  • 210 Software Quality Management

    As more details emerge, the plan for the next phase needs to tune thetask steps, and compare 'top down' and 'bottom up' estimates; usinggeneral skill types, not named individuals.

    Then you pass the tuned plan on to PMW to be scheduled into thework load, alongside all the other tasks you are already committed to.

    As the phase finishes (and again at project end) the lessons need tobe collected, reviewed and fed back into the model for use on otherphases of other projects.

    So you can ensure that your Quality Reviews are mandatory elementsin your generic plan, so cannot be "tuned out" on any project.

    Interactions "inkJe on* pcojecf



    Plans(Project andConsolidated)Actual vs.Planned

    Plan Review/Approvals PrPnGo-ResBCor



    Work Assignments Progress Feedback j TeamTechnical Direction/ . , ,Quality Assurance _ Mem DSPS

    ojectoribesals. Scope.ouroe andxJgetistraints

    / *cfo**-pfo]*ct exp

    L\&. Melhodobgy/\

  • Software Quality Management 211

    purely personal basis.

    When you add the 'getting better' ambition, you must recognise theInfrastructure elements, called 'Methodologists', or Quality Assuranceor Standards.

    Figure 4 shows how BRIDGE and PMW match all these informationflows.

    Today's Products












    Figure 4

    What About Level 3?

    Most methodology vendors describe their successful clients in termsappropriate to level 3 - 'We All Use All The Standards All The Time'.In practice, you do need to adapt the standard for this particularproject. There are already customised versions of Project BRIDGEavailable for Summit D, 4Front, Stradis (and Hoskyns* own PRISM).

    Transactions on Information and Communications Technologies vol 4, 1993 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3517

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    BRIDGE is an Implementation aid, to make the methodology easierto install, to use, and to keep up to date.

    Level 3 and Beyond

    At level 1 and level 2, people need something easy to understand,helpful, simple - and able to be over-ridden. BUT as the processesbecome better understood, and broken down into simpler worksteps(minutes, not days), more rigorous process management and productmanagement becomes feasible, desirable and necessary. On this pathlie the higher levels of SPMM, the 'Software factory', statistical processquality measures etc.

    Active Process Management Tools

    For level 3 areas of the organisation, the Quality Culture has becomethe driving force. A new generation of more formal tools is startingto become available for Process Management in I.T. These derivefrom work in the late 80's on Automating Life Cycle Management,notably at Nastec Corporation and in ESPRIT-funded efforts.

    Examples are Process WEAVER from Cap Gemini Innovation inGrenoble, and the ESF continuing work.

    In WEAVER, your standard life cycles are loaded as sets of processdefinitions, with sequences (dependencies) and selection criteria - soif a product fails its QA Review, there would be a process path for thedeveloper to correct it, using the review's notes.

    Thus the 'static' process definition becomes a 'dynamic' enactment asthe various products change status (ready - started - complete).

    Two aspects are worth noting - the Active process management, andthe external tool links. This means that as you sign on to an Agenda,you see the latest list of your work packages waiting for you, either 'inprogress' or 'ready'. Your manager has assigned them to you as aninstantiation of the generic resource type needed for the task.

    Transactions on Information and Communications Technologies vol 4, 1993 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3517

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    And as you click on to a work package, the appropriate tool is loadedfor you, and all the relevant files are made available. All you have todo is perform the task, on screen, using the tool in front of you, andpress 'OK' when you are finished.

    The process manager has been configured for the tool for each task,and the 'Help' is available as examples in the tool itself. So you can"jump into the window", adapt the example to your specific task andthe result goes straight into the project file.

    Full Audit trails are kept, so you could analyse the actual flows (andtimes) to use in Process Improvement studies.

    This is a very brief introduction to Active Process Management, if youare serious about level 3, this needs to be looked at.

    Quality Management Systems and Certification

    This support technology can be used informally, with all manner ofshort cuts taken, according to the pressures of the moment.

    However, when you are certified to BS5750, you can't take short cuts!Then the process manager audit trail can be used to generate NonConformance Reports, showing deviations from the defined productflows. And to keep your certificate, these have to be signed offindividually by the Quality Manager.

    The regular certification process are greatly aided by these tools.After all, how better to prove the existence (and use) of a definedmethod, than by building the method into your process managementsystem, that everybody follows?


    This gives your organisation a clear path towards "Visibly GettingBetter". Based on widely - used current tools to start with, you canchange your culture towards 'predictability' and 'collecting andpositively re-using experience' and BS5750.

    Transactions on Information and Communications Technologies vol 4, 1993 WIT Press, www.witpress.com, ISSN 1743-3517

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    Even if we never get there, all the way, these minimal steps toprocess improvement still need to be taken now, to provide a firmnumerical base of local knowledge to build the future on. Then, whenyou are ready, the Active process management environment is anatura...